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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bestselling author GLORIA MALLETTE: Conversations Book Club Author of the Month, February 2007

Bestselling author Gloria Mallette has set a new standard for adult fiction. A resident of Pennsylvania, she has become known for her novels that cause you think and entertain during the same read. Her novels Distant Lover, The Honey Well, What’s Done in the Dark and now If There Be Pain have all gotten critical acclaim, but as her interview with Conversations shows, the author writes more for her own enjoyment and is humbled by the success she has experienced. Find out what else she shares in this exclusive conversation.

Gloria, it is such a pleasure to get this opportunity to speak with you. I have read two of your books at this point, WHAT’S DONE IN THE DARK and IF THERE BE PAIN. You are such a skillful storyteller. I have to ask: How does it feel to be able to keep your readers coming back for more?
Thank you for your compliment! I always wanted to tell stories that would get the attention of others yet remained true to my particular style. Since the 2002 release of PROMISES TO KEEP, I have tried to get better with each book, but that is second to my desire just to be true to my characters.

How have others related to your introspective style of writing?
I have to say that it has been a mixed bag. It is my nature to address issues, whether its with families or even internal struggles with the characters. Some readers appreciate that. Others have not been so kind. They say my work is too slow or not exciting enough. Some have even said that they don’t feel real. I like to hear the responses, good and bad, but I have come to realize that you can't please the masses. If you read something by someone or about something that you can’t relate to or don’t like then move on to something else that might keep your attention. With all the books on the market there is surely something for everyone.

What is the most enjoyable aspect for you when writing?
I like character development. That is what has gotten me through each epic, learning to listen to my characters. 99 % of what I put my characters through I have no experience with, but I let the characters take me where they want to go. It does require research on my part, but the end result is that I have remained true to them.

Tell me about the beginning of your journey as a published author.
In the beginning it was difficult for me. People told me that my stories were interesting, but none of them were selling. That led me to begin by self-publishing. In this way I had total creative control, but it also put limitations on me when it came to where my books could be sold and my distribution. Thanks to simply word of mouth and my own promoting I was able to sell thousands of copies on my own. It was at that point that publishers took notice. I am not a formula driven author. I have to write what I feel.

One of the things that I noticed about your books is the fact that though the book covers portray a black face, your books really could relate to all races. Do you feel as though the way your books are marketed has anything to do with the way they have been received?
That’s a great question. When I sit down to write a book like IF THERE BE PAIN, I'm writing about the characters, not about what color they are. Again, I enjoy writing about issues. I do believe that authors---especially African American authors--- can be limited by the way we are marketed. If you think about it: our white counterparts don’t have to put white faces on their covers in order to draw their readers. People read and buy their books because they like what they have to say. That’s how I want it to be in my case. I am just telling the story. If it crosses all ethnic lines or not, I don't need to say what they look like—unless it matters to the story I am telling.

On the other hand, I do have to write from the point of being what I am: an African American woman.

Who do you find yourself writing for the most, Gloria: the publisher, your fans or yourself?
Me. I have to write first for me. That is the only way I can be true to the stories I tell and the characters I create.

With IF THERE BE PAIN were you at all surprised at how the story developed, namely the main character Kyle Lawson?
I was surprised about the way the book evolved. The book tells the story of a young man who seemingly had everything going for him but couldn't commit when it came to relationships. Most of the time he, like people we know, doesn't listen to family or those around him. In the end, though, he realizes that if he wants to live, he has to get himself together--or die trying.

What was the overall message you wanted to get across?
People try to manipulate each others to get what they want. I also wanted to address how a lot of times we have people close to us that we don’t show or tell how much we love and need them. Finally IF THERE BE PAIN shows how a lie can affect not only the one who tells it, but everyone around them.

Do you have anything you want to say to your fans?
I want to thank them for their support and encouragement. I also want to encourage anyone who has read my books---whether they enjoyed them or not---to drop by Amazon.com and leave me a review. I want to know what all of you think. Everyone's opinion matters. www.gloriamallette.com

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